Interview with Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw

It’s time for #ChatWithThePBLady 🥳🎉

Today’s chat is with the wonderful Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw. We chatted about her inspiring book MIGHTY MAHI. Illustrated by Dorothy Shaw.

📚 Tell me about the town you grew up in.

I grew up in Southfield, Michigan a suburban family town with great schools and tons of kids playing outside.

📚 What fictional character would you like to be friends with?

Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker! She’s clever, caring, and comfortable being who she is.

📚 Besides the children’s section, what’s your favorite section of a bookstore?

The travel section! I enjoy researching and planning vacation adventures for my family.

📚 If a song began playing when you entered a room, what song would it be?

Ride on the Magic School Bus – Each year I taught my developing readers through a yearlong theme. I like to think over the years, I magically transformed my classroom into Yellowstone National Park, outer space, a weather center, and the undersea world leading my classroom to learn their reading skills as they delved deeply into an engaging yearlong science topic. A yearlong magical field trip!

📚 Now, let’s talk about MIGHTY MAHI. This book is based on an inspiring true story. Please tell us a little bit about Mahi and his courageous story.

Mahi’s story is one of perseverance and community support. It begins with Mahi gliding through the ocean unaware of the danger that lies ahead—littered fishing line that ensnares her right front flipper. Over time, Mahi is too weak to dive for food, or swim to the ocean surface for air. Eventually making it to a Florida beach, Mahi is rescued and rushed to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center for emergency care where the veterinarian must remover her battered flipper. Facing and overcoming many obstacles, the center names the sea turtle Mahi the Hawaiian word for very strong. Mahi heals slowly and the center must provide her expensive and specialized care along with reteaching her how to swim, dip, and dive—with only three flippers.

📚 This book is filled with interesting facts about sea turtles. Could you share one of those facts with us?

Of course! Sea turtles travel very long distances. A leatherback sea turtle can swim more than 10,000 miles every year!

📚 What was the research process like for this book?

The research needed to write Mahi’s story was extensive. I learned about Mahi when my upper elementary reading students symbolically adopted her from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center as part of our project-based learning unit on sea turtles. As a class we researched the story of her rescue and received biweekly updates on her progress and eventual release. The students and I also researched facts about sea turtles and the threats sea turtles face. I used a lot of our research in my book. (One of the many reasons I dedicated Mighty Mahi to my students.) Additionally, I read numerous articles about Mahi, interviewed people who aided in her rescue and care, and read a slew of books about sea turtles ranging from picture books to adult nonfiction.

📚 This book really shows the importance of keeping ocean waters clean. How can children make a difference and help save animals like Mahi?

It’s amazing how much children can do to help our environment. To protect the ocean and the marine animals living there, children can begin by using less plastic. Even if you live far from the ocean, plastic in our trash still makes its way into the sea endangering our wonderous marine animals. Simple changes like drinking from reusable water bottles, skipping the straw, and using non-disposable containers for lunches can make a great impact.

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